Sunday, October 21

Lots of Red Meat at Last Night's Candidate Forum

For a good part of the evening, I struggled with the best term to describe last night's event.  Then I read GeeGuy's blog.  Last night was certainly a forum for the anti-establishmentarians out there; both the candidates and the audience.

It was very disappointing that the incumbents, those that support them, and all of our local media chose to skip this forum.  About three dozen people attended the forum, which was a 'debate' among Mary Jolley, Ed McKnight, Susan Kahn, Larry Steele and Stuart Lewin.  And yes, most of the questions were about the coal plant.

However, these candidates responses among what ended up to be a mutual admiration society or campaign rally were still instructive.  Quite frankly, I was horrified when Jolley, McKnight and Kahn suggested that the new commission spend its time investigating current city employees through use of its subpoena power.

Let me say that again.  Jolly, McKnight and Kahn said that they want our commission to hold hearings and investigate current city employees over past acts.  They want to exercise the commission's subpoena power, and they want to put people in jail.

I submit to you that we don't need a commission that spends our time and money making themselves into a Starr chamber.  We have real problems in our city government and neighborhoods that need to be solved.  Prosecuting a vendetta is not helpful to anyone.

Our city police department has been operating at less then full force for months, and I submit to you that this is part of the reason we have had a mini crime wave in the Lower North and South sides.  Part of the reason for these department vacancies is not enough pay being offered to new recruits and current officers.  However, a big part of the problem is that the city's recruitment officer, Lt. Lockerby, has had his hands full trying to run a dog pound.  This is one of the unintended consequences when the commission goes half-cocked into ill advised adventures.

Lewin was actually the most reasoned and moderate of the candidates last night.  He has it right; we need to move forward.

7 comments:

GFgirl said...

Aaron,

I was not at the Saturday night debate. What current city officials were the candidates talking about investigating?

Treasure State Jew said...

GFGirl;

Of that, I am unsure. I am pretty sure that they were referring to Lawton. Beyond that, who knows?

I would suggest that you ask that of Jolley, McKnight and Kahn. Maybe they have email addresses on their websites?

GFgirl said...

Thanks for the reply.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting, you are so horrified about investigations into any wrong doings.

Nobody was suggesting spending time on a witch hunt. If something improper turns up they must get to the bottom of it.

Sound like you are saying, just let it go? I'm more horrified by that!

Treasure State Jew said...

Anon;

Turning our relatively dysfunctional city commission into an investigative body sounds to me exactly like a witch hunt. I suggest to you that anything they 'find' is more likely to be a political point rather than a discovery of impropriety.

We have a professional county attorney and attorney general. While I would not advocate taking away investigative power from the city commission, I would be very skeptical about its use of such power.

Ed Mcknight said...

Aaron,

I'm a little taken aback. I've known you to be balanced, pragmatic and care deeply not only for the neighborhood but the whole community.

How about a little context to the loaded question asked, That people were already guilty of crimes and would we be willing to prosecute. It is the job of prosecutors to prosecute people charged with a crime, not the city commission.

I did say that I want to see the books for myself and also “I'm not calling for a big investigation”. I also stated that If any constituent comes to me for information, by ordinance I “can not be prohibited” from making an inquiry for that information. Suspicion has been raised and deceptive practices have been shown. Should we refuse to quell the suspicion and let it fester? Your suggestions of how to achieve peace of mind in this matter are welcome.

I totally agree with you that the worst thing that could happen is a huge wast of time and money resulting in divisive hard feelings, especially since I'm pointing out that the lack of competence in pursuing public power has resulted in a huge wast of time and money and resulted in divisive hard feelings.

This city is filled with opportunity and I have been working with motivated people with positive attitudes. The sooner we can put this whole debacle behind us and return to a back to basics city government that invests in the can-do spirit we have in this community the better off we all will be.

Treasure State Jew said...

Ed; You bring up some very good points and deserve a serious answer. I included your name in my original post because, in addition to stating that you were not calling for a big investigation, you did state that you intended to sign several subpoenas.

You are correct; it is the job of prosecutors -- not the commission -- to investigate prior acts. Although in certain circumstances I could see the benefit of a political body like the commission utilizing subpoena/investigative power, I think we are a far cry from such a circumstance now. In any case, I would never advocate giving the commission any judicial authority beyond the power to subpoena individuals to collect information relevant to an upcoming decision.

Quite frankly, the best way to quell suspicion is an election process. We now have a sharp divide between "establishment" and "anti-establishment" candidates. The results of the November 6 election will be the best way to accurately gauge the the feelings of the electorate.

Two years ago, we had a similar exercise with the school board. People were upset about the decision to close East, and voted out the incumbents to reverse that decision. Rather than allow prior feelings to fester, the school board reversed its decision, closed Paris, and moved on to working constructively for the community. I submit to you that this is the model that needs to be followed if enough seats are collected by CCE to reverse any decisions.

Whatever the decision of the voters next week, we need to accept it and move on. Feelings are just too heated now.